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Henning Larsen designs circular timber office building prioritizing biogenic materials in France

France Architecture News - Feb 19, 2024 - 07:55   1843 views

Henning Larsen designs circular timber office building prioritizing biogenic materials in France

Danish architecture firm Henning Larsen has unveiled design for a circular timber office building prioritizing "biogenic materials and low-carbon design" in Prévessin-Moëns, France

Called B777, the 13,000-square-foot (1,207-square-metre) building will be developed for World Leading Scientific Research Center, CERN, an epicenter of scientific innovation and home to the world’s largest and most complex research instruments, notably the powerful particle accelerator The Large Hadron Collider. 

Founded in 1954, at CERN 12 European countries came together to establish the largest research facility for particle physics. 

Henning Larsen designs circular timber office building prioritizing biogenic materials in France

Henning Larsen has envisioned a building that transcends the traditional industrial, laboratory context in the nature, integrating biogenic materials and low-carbon design. With its circular layout, the building aims to generate community, collaboration, and wellbeing. 

Henning Larsen’s design has won an international design competition to design the building. 

Aiming to create a nature campus identity for CERN’s Prévessin Campus on the French side of the France-Switzerland border, the circular building stands at the edge of the forest and park, inviting scientists and guests to the area.

Henning Larsen designs circular timber office building prioritizing biogenic materials in France

Center of existence

The circular design is shaped around a sheltered courtyard at its heart. The courtyard seamlessly connects forest, park and plaza. Office, laboratory, and workshop spaces are combined within the open timber building, offering constant connection to nature.

According to the studio, the circular scheme" echoes CERN’s original mission to unite scientists in the collective pursuit of knowledge." 

Public plaza

The building features a quadruple height public atrium to accommodate informal working and lounge areas, while connecting bridges and embodying the place where knowledge can be exchanged in a serendipitous way. 

"With no dead ends, the large, flexible floor plans define community zones within the building, each with dedicated outdoor space and lounge areas. Inside, the workspaces will have a tactile and natural feel," said Henning Larsen. 

"Drawing inspiration from the protected plazas at the heart of nearby Alpine villages, the central courtyard of the building extends the outdoor comfort season, intentionally designed to remain open and permeable, acting as a social hub." 

"This space serves as an extension of the office and indoor activities, seamlessly connecting lab zones to informal meeting areas surrounded by greenery and offices in the inner circle enjoy views into nature," the studio said. 

"This central hub acts as the gateway to the restaurant, featuring outdoor seating and a kitchen garden with aromatic plants," the studio added.  

Henning Larsen designs circular timber office building prioritizing biogenic materials in France

During summertime, the leaves provide shade, in winter, the canteen terrace welcomes the rays of the sun, and in rainy weather, the passage functions as a covered space.

Connected landscapes 

Taking the surrounding landscape into the heart of the building, the building creates an extended biodiversity corridor, encouraging life to thrive, 'slow' paths and new routes around the campus will encourage people to connect with nature. 

The landscape of the building will take on a more urban character featuring islands of wild grass inspired by the Jura mountains and space for bike paths, bike parking, and charging stations.

"Our vision is to craft a dynamic workspace at the heart of nature—a place where wellbeing, collaboration, and knowledge thrive. It's not just an ordinary office; the circular design serves as a symbolic marker, creating a new cultural center for the entire campus in a formerly rigid, orthogonal, research park," said Søren Øllgaard, Partner and Design Director, Henning Larsen.

Henning Larsen designs circular timber office building prioritizing biogenic materials in France

"Infranature’, as we term it, encapsulates our approach to blending the infrastructural needs of the scientific research campus with the intrinsic benefits of working near to nature, resonating with the rural and natural qualities of our 'nature' campus identity," said Mikkel Eskildsen, Associate Design Director, Henning Larsen.

"Stepping onto the Prévessin Campus is an immersion in the natural beauty of the area, where nature and indoor/outdoor activities seamlessly intertwine. As you navigate through the forest, you encounter a clearing, bathed in natural light filtering through the canopy above," Eskildsen added.

The project targets to reduce embodied carbon, as well as operational carbon, which is prioritized throughout the design, evaluating the effect the building will have on the environment through life-cycle assessments. 

Henning Larsen designs circular timber office building prioritizing biogenic materials in France

Aiming to reuse and recycle structural materials, the project is designed to be simple, detachable and disassembled using mechanical connections.

Thanks to the three-dimensional façade of the building, daylight and natural views are maximized, while at the same time, it reduces energy consumption caused by cooling by creating its own shadow to prevent solar radiation.

Henning Larsen designs circular timber office building prioritizing biogenic materials in France

Site plan

Biobased design

Henning Larsen will use biobased materials throughout the project, ensuring low-carbon design.

"The biobased design of the structure seamlessly blends into its surroundings, mirroring the natural elements and encouraging further exploration with the rough soils and native vegetation beneath your feet," said Sonja Stockmarr, Global Design Director, Landscape, Henning Larsen. 

"As the native biodiversity thrives and evolves with the seasons, so does the building and its inhabitants." 

"This serene environment sets the stage for a unique working experience, where the possibility of activity in nature enhances productivity and well-being," Stockmarr added.

Henning Larsen will work with global engineering, architecture and consultancy company Ramboll on the project.

"B777 is more than a building; it's a collective commitment by CERN, Henning Larsen, and Ramboll to contribute to the dynamic life on this world-leading science research campus," said Graeme Stewart, Head of Department, Ramboll.

"Working collaboratively as a multidisciplinary team, benchmarking against material consumption and employing data-driven design principles, our holistic thinking ensures that every decision is right for the building. An inspiring landmark for future development," Stewart added.

Henning Larsen designs circular timber office building prioritizing biogenic materials in France

Floor plan

Henning Larsen won a competition to redesign Prague Central Station with a spacious open-roof timber canopy in Prague, Czech Republic. The firm is also designing a bold new urban transformation in Bolzano, Italy. 

The studio is working on a new timber building in Lelystad - a new logistics center will be "Europe’s largest timber logistics center" in Lelystad, the Netherlands.

Project facts

Porject name: CERN B777  

Location: Prévessin-Moëns, France

Expected completion date: 2027

Size: 13,000sqft

Client: CERN

Architect: Henning Larsen

Local Architect: Brière Architectes

Landscape Architect: Henning Larsen

Engineers: Ramboll, Artelia Group

All renderings © Vivid Vision.

All drawings & models © Henning Larsen. 

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